In 1976, rumors began swirling that the Beatles had reunited and recorded a new album under the guise of “Klaatu” (the name of the protagonist in the 1951 sci-fi classic “The Day the Earth Stood Still.” Some rather overzealous journalists and disc jockeys were more than likely responsible for starting the whole thing, and Capitol Records — which released the album — didn’t exactly go out of their way to dispel the whispers either (since the album sold an additional 20,000 copies in a matter of weeks). In actuality, Klaatu were a prog-rock act from Canada who recorded until 1981 then reunited in 2005.
In 1976, a rumor started circulating in the United States that the Beatles had recorded and released a new album under the pseudonym of "Klaatu" and sales of that record shot way up. The rumor went something like this:
The Beatles supposedly recorded an album in mid-1966, that was to be a follow up to Revolver, but the master tapes were mysteriously "lost" from the studio. The Beatles did not want to re-record the album as Paul had (supposedly) just died in a car accident. When Billy Shears (a Paul McCartney look alike contest winner) stepped in to fill the space left by Paul's death, the Beatles stopped touring and recorded a new album that eventually turned out to be "Sgt. Pepper." This explains the long gap between Revolver and Sgt. Pepper and the change in musical direction. Meanwhile, in 1975, the missing masters were uncovered during research for the Beatles' story project titled, The Long And Winding Road (which eventually became 1995's Beatles Anthology) and the band decided to release the album as a tribute to the late Paul McCartney. They decided on a release with no credit shown to songwriters and no photos so that the album would sell on the merits of the music contained therein and not on any "Beatles hype" (similar to Paul giving away a song to Peter and Gordon in the early 60s called "Woman" under the songwriting name of Bernard Webb).
What were the clues that made people think that THIS album was the Beatles?
1. The record was on Capitol records, the American record company that had released most of the Beatles' records in the US.
2. The record had no names of band members listed on it anywhere.
3. The record had no producer name on it anywhere. It simply said, "Produced by Klaatu."
4. The record had no songwriter credits other than simply, "All selections composed by Klaatu."
5. The record has a mysterious publisher listed. It says, "All selections published by Klaatu ASCAP/CAPAC." (The US re-issue in 1981 says the songs are published by Welbeck Music Corp/ASCAP and MCA Music/ASCAP)
6. CAPAC (see clue number 5) is the Canadian equivalent of America's ASCAP and Britain's BMI and John Lennon had recently been rumored to be moving to Toronto Canada since the US was trying to deport him.
7. The record had no pictures of band members on it anywhere.
8. On a couple of songs (Calling Occupants, Sub-Rosa Subway) the vocals sound like Paul McCartney & John Lennon.
9. The name Klaatu is taken from the movie "The Day The Earth Stood Still" in which the alien named Klaatu tells his robot Gort to stop hurting people with the command, "Klaatu barada niktu!" On Ringo Starr's Goodnight Vienna album Ringo is seen coming out of the spaceship from that movie and is standing next to Gort.
10. When Sgt. Pepper had been released, the inner sleeve showed Paul McCartney with a patch on his uniform, which read O.P.D. Although many interpretations of this have come and gone, one of them was used in the Paul is dead myth, "Officially Presumed Dead". During the song Sir Bodsworth Rugglesby III on their first album, the lyrics state, "Officially Presumed Is Dead." Thanks to the outtakes of the Sgt. Pepper picture that are included with the CD we can now see that the patch says O.P.P. which stands for Ontario Provincial Police. Since John Lennon had been rumoured to be moving to Ontario, this fits the rumour that Klaatu was the Beatles quite nicely.
11. Capitol Records USA messed up a song title [does this surprise us?] on the original release, listing it as Sir Bodsworth Rubblesby III. This mistake carried onto their subsequent reissues until the first CD issue on Capitol which finally corrected this error. Says Crazy Ray, of WDRC (*see below*) in Waterbury, CT, "If you were to define Bods, Worth, Rubbles, and By, it would mean 'persons of importance born of quarry.' The Beatles were first known as the Quarrymen."
12. Beetles are heard to be chirping and buzzing at the start of Calling Occupants. (Sounds more like Crickets and some birds to me.....)
13. The song title, Sub-Rosa Subway was thought to be a take-off on Paul's Red Rose Speedway.
14. In Sir Bodsworth Rugglesby III there is the line, "he's the only man who's ever been to hell and come back alive." Some people thought that this was a reference to the Paul is Dead rumor which states that Paul died in 1966 in a car crash and was replaced with a look-alike making it seem like he had come back alive.
15. While there are 8 trees pictured right at the very bottom of the front cover of the band's first album, only 7 have their roots showing. There are 7 letters in the name Beatles.
16. On the back cover of the first album is a two colored planet. Some took this to be an allusion to Paul's album, "Venus and Mars".
17. On Abbey Road the Beatles sing about the "Sun King". The Klaatu album covers all have a picture of the sun on them.
18. The initials for the Beatles last album, Abbey Road, are AR. If spelled backwards that becomes RA which is the name of the Egyptian god of the sun. See number 17 for the "sun" connection.
19. On the Sir Army Suit album is a song called Mr. Manson - it is about Charles Manson. Charles Manson is the mass murderer who claimed the Beatles were messengers from God sending messages to him directly.
20. Also on Sir Army Suit is an interesting piece of recording technology for 1978. The song Silly Boys has very strange sounding vocals. The lyrics are hard to understand as a result. This prompted me to look at the lyric sheet from the original album. The lyrics are printed backwards. And by backwards I don't mean like this, "utaalK", I mean physically backwards. If you hold the lyric sheet to a mirror you can read the lyrics perfectly fine! (This applies to this song only.) SO, this gave me the idea to play the song backwards. It contains the lyrics to Anus of Uranus from their first album when played backwards! Some of the lines have been re-recorded using a vocoder and some have had heavy effects added, but the lyrics are all there. So, when the song is played forwards you hear the lyrics to Silly Boys. When the song is played backwards you hear the lyrics to Anus of Uranus. Very Cool! - (The Beatles pioneered backwards tape use...)
21. On the Magentalane album there is a song called December Dream - it is about the death of John Lennon. "Don't cry darling, don't cry, we all will die." "The darkest nightmare..." "December Dream, don't leave me now." "December Dream, don't let me down." (John Lennon was murdered in December of 1980 and had written a song with the Beatles called Don't Let Me Down.)
22. The Beatles connection was confirmed in 1988 when the band reunited to record ONE new song called "Woman" which was an allusion to Paul's song that he had given to Peter and Gordon in the early 60s under a pseudonym and also to John's song Woman from his Double Fantasy album which was released just before his death. This song alledgedly contained an old John studio-recorded demo which had been added to by Billy Shears (as Paul McCartney), George Harrison & Ringo Starr.
How did these rumors get started?
A Providence, RI newspaper (The Providence Journal) ran an article by a rock music writer named Steve Smith, which stated, "Could Klaatu be the Beatles? Mystery is a Magical Mystery Tour." Smith concluded that Klaatu was more than likely in part or in whole the Beatles.
Charlie Parker at WDRC in Hartford, CT said on air that it was, "a marvelous experience" to listen to this album and asked, "Who are Klaatu? Are the Beatles really back?" and suddenly Capitol records had to ship another 20,000 copies to that region of the country.
All this led people to think this was the Beatles. If it wasn't them, then why not put their names and their pictures on it?
The New Musical Express (a prominent music newspaper in England during the Beatles' time) ran an article with the headline, "Deaf idiot journalist starts Beatle rumor." But despite that and denials from the band (through spokesman Frank Davies) the rumor persisted and the band's album continued to sell in large quantities.
In 1980, the band came out with its fourth album (which also ended up being the last album released in the US by them) called Endangered Species. This time the album gave us some information. It said the songs were published by Klaatoons, but it told us that the album was produced by Christopher Bond. The songs also gave writing credit to Long, Woloschuk, and Tome. Were these the names of Klaatu members?
The following note was also included in the liner notes for the album:
There are three accepted definitions applied when describing the status of declining wildlife: rare, threatened and ENDANGERED SPECIES. The most recent figures published in the Red Data Book, as issued by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, indicate that there are at least 340 animals and 20,000 plants listed as endangered species.
Experts throughout the world agree that unless immediate and effective measures are implemented to protect the existence of these life forms, their final outcome will inevitably be . . . extinction.
Terry Draper, Dee Long, John Woloschuk
For more information, please contact: I.U.C.N., 1110
The album also contained an address to write to the band:
P.O. Box 1030
Oak Ridges, Ontario
Canada L0G 1P0
So now we had songwriting credits to three people and a note from three people (2 of whom had been part of the songwriting credits). Are these the members of Klaatu?
Klaatu actually are:
John Woloschuk - vocals - bass - guitar - keyboards
Terry Draper - vocals - drums - guitar - keyboards - slide trombone
Dee Long - vocals - guitar - keyboards
… and there is no Beatles connection on their albums at all.
Sources and Additional Information: